Washington’s House of Representatives passes bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour.
(March 3, 2015) Legislation to raise Washington’s minimum wage by close to 30% was approved by the House of Representatives on March 3, 2015 in a 51 to 46 vote. If approved by the Senate, the state’s current minimum wage of $9.47 an hour would rise to $10 on January 1, 2016, and increase annually to reach $12 on January 1, 2019.
The vote was split down party lines with Democrats in favor of the bill. It will face a tougher test in the Republican-controlled state Senate.
During the two-hour debate of House Bill 1355, House Republicans offered 13 amendments, including lowering teen wages, taking a longer look at inflation or varying the wage around the state to account for differences between the central Puget Sound region’s strong economy and high unemployment in some rural areas.
The debate over the bill was unique. Normally, when a bill comes to the floor of the House or Senate, members can offer amendments to the bill. On rare occasions, an amendment may be offered that is outside the “scope” of the bill, and the speaker can rule that the amendment is out of order. That shuts down any and all debate on the amendment.
However, Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, halted meaningful debate over the bill by ruling that nine of the thirteen amendments offered were “out of order.” The basis for his ruling was an extraordinarily technical interpretation on the title of the bill. Speaker Chopp determined that no amendments that could be interpreted as an “exemption” to the minimum wage could be debated and voted on by the full House.
The bill now has until April 1 to be heard and voted out of a Senate policy committee.